Now that James Harden has triggered his player option to facilitate a trade away from the Sixers, all of the various “what actually happened” reports are hitting the feed.

Sam Amick has a writeup at The Athletic saying that Harden was “extremely upset” at how the Sixers handled “his possible free agency.”

A couple of passages from the story:

“in recent weeks and days, sources say, all indications on Harden’s side pointed to the Sixers forcing him to test the market before they would make an offer of any kind. The understandable concern for Harden, sources say, was that Philadelphia was preparing to offer him the kind of short-term, team-friendly contract that wouldn’t come close to reflecting his stature in the league or the level of his current play… Harden, who hired Troy Payne, Mike Silverman and Brandon Grier of Equity Basketball to be his agents in February after going more than five years without full-time representation, had no interest in being put in that compromised negotiating position. And it would only grow worse as free agency neared.”

The one thing Harden has going for him is that he did indeed take a pay cut to help the Sixers this past season. You would think that might gain him some favorability halfway through the 1+1 deal, but it sounds like Daryl Morey and company weren’t going to reward that by simply throwing a ton of money at him, which is the smart business decision. In any other situation, you’d tell the player to go test the market first to see if they can get what they think they’re worth, but if Harden feels like the Sixers owed him, it makes sense.

“Sources say the Rockets — with a first-year coach in Ime Udoka, a cadre of young prospects and $64 million in salary cap space to spend — had already chosen not to pursue Harden in free agency in recent weeks and thus eliminated another of his top options.”

This was reported as though it was a done deal months ago. Looks like that either changed quickly or was always bullshit.

“Harden had serious interest in a pre-Bradley Beal trade to the Phoenix Suns too, with his old friend Kevin Durant known to be in favor of the possible reunion”

This was suggested by Ramona Shelburne and others, so validity to those rumors for sure.

“Morey’s choice to keep Harden and his camp in the dark regarding the Sixers’ plans had everything to do with Harden’s choice to ask out. And as Morey knows perhaps better than anyone, the prospect of keeping Harden against his wishes — as the Rockets and Brooklyn Nets can attest — is unpleasant at best and untenable at worst. A deal with the Clippers may be the only way to salvage this messy situation.”

Well I don’t think any Sixers fans are going to be losing sleep over this. Harden took less money, helped the team bring in some extra pieces, and then they flamed out in the second round again anyway. We saw elite Harden in a couple of games and dreadful Harden in a couple of games. Consensus in Philly seems to be that you’re not winning a ring if you extend Harden and run it back with a different coach.

So trading Harden opens up a world of intrigue here. The Clippers do have some pieces, or you bring in a third team and work something more complicated. Either way, Harden is gone and we move on. Thanks you your service, James. Get out the trade machine.